An anonymous benefactor planted small bundles of cash around Baltimore on Saturday, posting clues online in a sort of city-wide scavenger hunt.
The man behind the Twitter account @IHidTheCash said he was inspired by a similar philanthropist in California — @HiddenCash – who has since been outed as millionaire real estate investor Jason Buzi. The local benefactor, who would not give his name and said he plans to remain anonymous, is based in Washington and has hidden cash around the D.C. metro area. Baltimore is his first foray outside of that region.
In messages to The Baltimore Sun, @IHidTheCash wrote that he had "become successful in my industry" in his late 20s but was "also very unhappy."
"This has become a fun way to get people to smile, share stories and talk about the small gifts of life," he wrote. "I'm having too much fun doing this!"
The benefactor left cash in Baltimore Saturday afternoon and posted clues to Twitter.
In one tweet Saturday, he wrote, "I hid the cash... Beautiful day #Baltimore! Lots of people and boats! #clue." He posted several photos, including one of several downtown buildings and wrote "I hid the cash ... One view from cash drop!"
In another photo, a table at the Inner Harbor with a yellow umbrella and a view of the National Aquarium can be seen. Minutes later, Renee Libby Beck tweeted "Hey ihidthecash, I found the cash!! Thanks for visiting #Baltimore."
The benefactor usually hides around $20 to $80 per spot and leaves a handwritten note.
Beck also posted a photo of a handwritten note on lined paper that said, "Hi: Enjoy this small gift! Do Great, Live Great!" It appeared she netted about $50.
Late Saturday, Beck tweeted that she and her husband, Steve, "are trying to do a little good with our #ihidthecash winnings." She wrote that they would use the money to help a man and his wife, who is blind, and their two adopted children, who are also blind. In an Instagram photo of a handwritten note addressed to "Bob," she wrote, "Please consider your next round of haircuts on us."
In previous scavenger hunts around the Washington area, the benefactor has tweeted clues like "I hid the cash... Where the water meets the cheese!" or "White envelope, in the bush. Beside handicap parking."
Recently, one note referenced Father's Day, with the benefactor telling people to not forget "the single mom's who do it on their own!" He also sometimes encourages finders to "pay it forward," and people on Twitter who find the hidden cash sometimes say they are donating it to a charitable cause.
He said he's not sure how much money he's given away so far, and that some cash drops have never been found. A Friday cash drop was found by an assignment editor at WUSA9 in Washington.
The benefactor said he grew up in Howard County and said he has not shared with anyone that he is the person behind the @IHidTheCash account.
"A bit awkward when a friend or co-worker brings up all the news stories about this," he wrote. "Kind of surreal when no one has any clue what you're doing and who you are."
@IHidTheCash said he wanted to spread positive energy and gets a kick out of people donating the money to charity.
"That's what people are craving, a positive distraction in a demanding, stressful world," he wrote. "There are private companies who are asking me to help them create campaigns for them, that's how much people recognize the need for a vibrant shift on our perspectives. I've been saying, small gifts give big perspective."
Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this story.